(The gist: A Lonely Place to Die was a good movie but not what I would consider a horror movie. The first half of the movie did fit the horror genre and was undoubtedly what I enjoyed the most; however, the second half departed off into the suspense/drama genre and left me wanting more…horror.)
Let me just begin by confessing: I am not a fan of heights. Normally, a movie does not generally inspire my phobia to manifest physically; however, a movie set on the side of a mountain face definitely starts off by drawing on my existing fears. Much as The Descent had me cringing on claustrophobic premise alone, A Lonely Place to Die put me on edge simply with the picturesque Scottish cliffs and mountains and the characters that dangled from them.
A Lonely Place to Die follows five mountaineers traveling through Scotland when they stumble upon a young Serbian girl buried in a box in the middle of the woods. Interesting premise, no? The child is young, school-aged, which of course tickled my maternal fears—another success at drawing on my real life fear. I focused more on how scared the child must be and her experience than the rest of the plot. Her character is relatively flat. She does not speak the language; she does not do much more than run and cry, but in such a situation, who can blame her?
Once the group liberates the young girl (Anna), her captors begin pursuing and executing them. I love a good human hunt sequence in a movie, and A Lonely Place to Die does not disappoint, especially as it includes repelling down cliffs as part of the chase. The movie also introduces you to the other side, giving you scenes and dialog from the hunters, which made the experience more round and interesting. This duality compensated for how flat the mountaineer characters become once the action (deaths) begin.
However, once the survivors make it out of the mountains and into a village, the movie changes. I could buy A Lonely Place to Die as a horror movie with the young girl in a box in the woods and with her kidnappers hunting her rescuers as they dangle on mountain faces. Yet that is where the horror ended. When the survivors make it into a village, A Lonely Place to Die transitions to more a suspense/drama. Even a creepy pig mask on one hunter failsw to conjure back up the horror vibe.
The characters run and hide and fight through the village; the various hunters and agents of the girl’s father pursue and plot. None of this is bad, but none of this is horror either. It was as if A Lonely Place to Die consisted of two separate movies joined together at the transition where the characters enter the village. The first movie was an entertaining hunting horror on the side of the mountains; the second movie was a kidnapping chase through a village. The second half gave me a very Along Came a Spider type vibe.
A Lonely Place to Die was recommended to me to be included in my New (to me) Horror endeavor (a new horror movie every week). I do think it should have been recommended to me, but I do not think it really fit on my horror to-do list. While I still enjoyed A Lonely Place to Die as a whole, I would not consider it a horror movie as a whole. I appreciated it as it was, but I do wish it had maintained its horror genre throughout the film.
Worth watching, as long as you are not jonesing for legit, thorough horror.